“Here she comes!”
“Mommy, she’s coming!”
Miss Esther smiled at the sound of high whispers just around the corner. In another moment she’d reached the first entrance to the underground house of the mice family.
Two small white mice looked up at her with shy smiles.
“Hello girls!” Miss Esther bent down. “How are you today?”
“Good!” The mice spoke at the same time and said the same thing. The two looked at each other and laughed as they realized what they’d done.
Miss Esther laughed too. Maybe this would be easier than she’d thought!
“We were watching for you.” One of the mice clasped her hands behind her back and smiled shyly.
“Thank-you. It’s very nice to be welcomed.” Miss Esther looked from one to the other. “Now, which one of you is Milly and which one is Molly?”
“I’m Milly!” The littlest mouse jumped up and down a few times. “I have two flowers in my hair just like I have two ‘L’s in my name.” She looked at her sister. “And this is Molly. She’s the oldest and she has one flower in her hair, just like she has one ‘O’ in her name.”
“I see!” Miss Esther smiled. “That does help. Thank-you, Milly. I’m so glad to know you both.”
“Girls! Do bring Miss Esther on in!” Mellie’s voice drifted up from below.
“The ladder’s back this way!” Milly scampered around another corner.
“Can I help you with your plate?” Molly bit her lip nervously.
“Why thank-you! That would be a big help. I don’t climb ladders too often.” Miss Esther handed the plate of cookies to Molly.
Molly promptly disappeared down the hole into her home.
Miss Esther eyed the entrance with some apprehension. She wasn’t exactly small and she wasn’t sure how she was going to fit in the family’s home.
“Why didn’t I wear a different dress?” Miss Esther kept her concerned thoughts to herself. “This skirt is so full, it’ll go everywhere! Oh Lord, would You help me to handle this with grace?”
Miss Esther knelt before the hole to take stock of the situation. To her relief the inside space was much bigger than she had thought! She set aside her hat and reached for the ladder.
“Welcome, Miss Esther! We’re so glad you’ve come!” Mellie came forward eagerly, drying her hands on her apron.
“Thank-you, Mellie. It’s a joy to be here!” Miss Esther knelt easily in the small space.
The two shook hands.
“The girls have been so excited all day! They’ve been watching for you the last half hour.” Mellie smiled. “You’re our first guest in our new home.”
Miss Esther glanced around. She could hardly tell the family had only just moved in. It looked like they’d always been there. Everything was clean and cozy.
“I brought some cookies for our tea.” Miss Esther saw her plate of cookies resting on the kitchen sideboard. “I hope you like molasses!”
“We’ve never tasted it before!” Mellie’s eyes sparkled. “I’m sure we’ll love it. Do come join us at the table.”
Miss Esther saw where a place had been created for her to sit, a small rug doing duty instead of a button chair. The round kitchen table was covered in a green tablecloth and set with delicate china.
“How lovely!” Miss Esther settled into her place.
“I helped set the table!” Milly leaned a hand on Miss Esther’s knee. “Do you like pretty dishes?”
“Yes, I do.” Miss Esther met the little one’s gaze kindly. “I’ve always thought food tastes better when it’s served on something beautiful.”
“Me too!” Milly nodded energetically. “What do your dishes look like?”
For a few moments Miss Esther and Milly were deep in a discussion of dish colors and types. Molly helped her mother put the last of the tea things on the table and then she scampered out of sight. Before long she was back with her father, Mel Mouse.
Miss Esther and Mel shook hands warmly.
Soon the whole family was gathered around the table.
“We like to thank the Lord for our food at each meal.” Mel smiled from his seat at the head of the table. “You’re welcome to join us, Miss Esther, if you like.”
Mel bowed his head and everyone else did too.
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this tea we are about to share and that Miss Esther is able to join us today.” Mel’s voice was deep and strong. “You are so good to us. In Christ’s Name, Amen.”
“Amen.” Miss Esther raised her head with a smile.
Four pairs of eyes looked at her.
“Do you…do you…do you know Jesus?” Milly hopped off her button chair and came to stand beside Miss Esther.
“I do, Milly. Jesus is my Savior, my Lord and my best Friend.” Miss Esther put a kind hand on the little one’s back. “Do you know Jesus?”
“We all do!” Milly was so excited she quivered. “Oh, I’m so glad you know Him too!”
“We all are.” Mellie’s eyes shone. “Come, Milly dear, sit back down. Perhaps while I pour the tea, Miss Esther can tell us how she came to know Jesus.”
“Of course! I’d love to hear your stories too.” Miss Esther spread her napkin on her lap and thought a moment. “I was born in Pennsylvania and lived there for a number of years in a big house called Maple Sugar Cottage. But it was somewhat of a lonely place as I lived there all by myself.” She tipped her head in thought. “I think a lot of people in this world are lonely.”
Mellie Mouse nodded.
“Then we moved to Ohio and I lived in a one room apartment in a high rise bookshelf. It was a fun place to live and eventually my sister Susanna came to live there too. We had quite a bit of fun together.”
“I didn’t know you had a sister!” Milly took a cookie and then passed the plate around.
“I do. Actually I have two sisters.” Miss Esther smiled. “After we lived in the bookshelf, Susanna and I moved into Beekeep Cottage. My sister Priscilla joined us while we were there. Now all three of us live at Walnut House.”
“You have moved a lot, Miss Esther.” Mel took a sip of tea.
“Yes. I love to travel and have had a great deal of fun making homes in various places. But you know, I’ve found that no amount of homemaking or traveling or friendships can make me completely happy. Those things don’t fill the aching loneliness deep inside of me.”
Mellie nodded her agreement.
“When I was young I heard about God and that He loves us.” Miss Esther set a cookie on her plate. “But I had done things God said not to do and needed to ask His forgiveness. There was a penalty for the wrong things I had done and there was no way I could pay it myself. But God loved me so much that He sent His Son to pay the penalty for my bad choices.”
Miss Esther reached into her pocket and drew out a tiny New Testament. “So if I would put my trust in Christ, I could be forgiven and have a restored relationship with God. Do you girls know John 1:12?”
“We’re going to memorize that one next week.” Molly’s voice was quiet.
“What perfect timing! Here, I’ll read you what it says.” Miss Esther looked down at her pocket Bible. “‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:’ (NKJV) So I did. I prayed and asked Christ to ‘come into my heart’. This was my way of telling Him that I believed in Him and wanted Him to be my Savior. And I became a real Christian.”
Miss Esther smiled. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Christ is the one who fills that lonely place in my heart. No matter where I live or go, I’m never completely alone because Jesus goes with me. He’s been with me in every place I’ve lived. I love telling others what Jesus has done for me. It makes such a difference to know I have eternal life and that when I die I’ll spend eternity with God.”
“What a lovely story, Miss Esther!” Mellie passed the honey down the table.
“And it’s true too.” Mel took another bite of cake. “Thank-you for sharing with us, Miss Esther.”
“Thank-you for listening! I love telling others what He’s done for me.” Miss Esther lifted her teacup. “I would love to hear your stories.”
The next hour was full of hearing how her hosts had come to know Jesus. Even little Milly had a story to tell. By the time they had finished, all the tea cake had disappeared and almost all of the cookies.
Miss Esther caught sight of the clock and realized she needed to start for home.
She leaned back against the wooden wall with a happy sigh. “This has been lovely. Thank-you so much for having me. I’m refreshed in body and soul.”
“Talking about Christ has a way of doing that.” Mel got up from his seat with a smile. “One of these days we’ll have to meet your sisters.”
“They would love to meet you as well.” Miss Esther set her dishes aside. “Perhaps your family could join us for tea next week?”
“We’d love to!” Mellie nodded.
“Can I help with the dishes?” Miss Esther pushed herself to her knees.
“Oh, the girls and I can get them!” Mellie hopped from her chair. “We enjoy washing up.”
Miss Esther shook hands all around and moved towards the ladder. The girls held it steady while she climbed. Once Miss Esther had made it safely to the floor above the whole family scurried up after her.
“Your family is good at climbing ladders!” Miss Esther tied on her bonnet and accepted the empty plate from Mellie.
“Lots of practice.” Mel dusted off his hands.
Miss Esther smiled and rose to her feet. “Thanks again.”
“Give our greetings to your sisters.” Mellie waved a paw. “We look forward to meeting them soon!”
“I can hardly wait to introduce you.” Miss Esther waved back. “See you soon!”
“Good bye!” The whole family waved as Miss Esther moved down to the street.
Miss Esther paused for a moment before turning the corner. The friends shared a final wave and then Miss Esther continued on her way.
“Lord, I thank You!” Miss Esther began to pray in her heart as she so often did. “I was so worried about having the energy to serve this afternoon and You more than answered my prayer for strength. Not only did you enable me to serve by sharing my story and listening to theirs, but You’ve refreshed my own heart. I’ve more energy now than I did this morning!” Miss Esther tipped her head back to look up with a smile. “You’re amazing, Lord!”
And then Miss Esther hurried to catch a ride home in the Air Basket. What a story she had to tell her sisters tonight!
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14